- “If this lot can get on, we could have a hit on our hands” – Ian Lavender looks back on the making of Dad’s Army
- Dad’s Army 50th anniversary on TV: how the BBC and Gold are celebrating the comedy classic
20. A stain on his character (Turkey dinner, December 1974)
At a festive dinner for the town’s OAPs, Pike tips gravy down Mainwaring’s best dinner jacket.
19. The green-eyed monster (The Honourable Man, November 1973)
Mainwaring is furious to learn that Wilson has been entitled, and is further incensed by Pike and his mum.
18. The Special Relationship (My British Budd, November 1973)
Mainwaring is told a visiting US colonel will greet him with, “Howdy partner, put it there.” “Put what where?”
17. We’re all wet, Mr. Mainwaring! (The Royal Train, November 1973)
The men line up to salute the King’s train, oblivious that they are standing next to a water trough…
16. The day the balloon went pop (Battle of the giants!, December 1971)
“Good heavens!” exclaims Wilson as Mainwaring’s shot hits a distant balloon. “What do you mean, ‘Good heavens’?” asks the Captain… “Good heavens!”
15. Warden in the water (Battle of the giants!, December 1971)
A typically belligerent Hodges gets pushed by Wilson off a bridge — into the river below.
14. “Ask your friends to have some tea” (The battle of Godfrey’s cottage, March 1969)
The home guard Commandeer Godfrey’s home, and his sisters carry on as the bullets start to fly…
13. Herd the one about the pantomime cow? (Operation kilt, March 1969)
A disguised Frazer and Walker try to pass unnoticed through a field of cows, but a bull has other plans.
12. Pipe down,Frazer! (If the cap fits…, November 1972)
Delighting at his captain’s imminent humiliation at a regimental dinner where he’s just been asked to play the bagpipes, Frazer is flabbergasted by Mainwaring’s secret skill.
11. Hair today (Keep young and beautiful, October 1972)
Wilson laughs at his captain’s toupé — only to be told, “Watch it, Wilson, you might snap your girdle!”
10. Jones goes for a spin (Don’t forget the diver, October 1970)
Attempting to capture a windmill being defended by the rival Eastgate platoon, the overenthusiastic Jones gets caught in the sails (right), then plummets into the river.
9.“Stupid boy” (When you’ve got to go, September 1975)
At the supper to give him a call-up send-off, Pike finally comes clean that, due to his rare blood type, he won’t now be joining the RAF.
8. Old po-face is my brother (My brother and I, December 1975)
Alcoholic novelty salesman Barry Mainwaring introduces himself to an incredulous — and gleeful — Frazer.
7. Mystery woman revealed (Getting the bird, October 1972)
When Frazer accidentally learns that Wilson has a grown-up daughter, he swears surprisingly heartfelt discretion.
6.“To the Home Guard” (Never too old, November 1977)
In the final episode, Mainwaring gives the men a pep talk, ending with Wilson suggesting a special toast…
Top 5 moments
5. A brief encounter for the Captain (Mum’s Army, November 1970)
Mainwaring becomes romantically involved with Mrs Gray (played by Carmen Silvera), a volunteer in the women’s section. But to silence Walmington’s wagging tongues, she decides to return to London. Mainwaring is devastated…
Mainwaring: But I don’t want you to go. The whole pattern of my life has changed — I just live from one meeting to the next.
Fiona Gray: I know, and I’m just the same, but it’s the only thing to do. People are talking.
M: People always talk. Who cares about that?
FG: But there’s your wife.
M: Huh! Nobody will talk to her. She hasn’t left the house since Munich.
4. The old empty barn (Gorilla Warfare, November 1974)
Out on a field exercise, the men bed down in a barn and brace themselves for one of Frazer’s long-winded ghost stories…
Frazer: Would you like to hear the story of the old empty barn?
Mainwaring: Well yes… yes. Yes, it might put us in a good mood before we go to sleep. Pay attention, everybody. Private Frazer is going to tell us the story of the old empty barn. Carry on, Frazer.
F: Right, well… the story of the old empty barn… well… there was nothing in it!
3. Cardinal Puff-Puff (Fallen Idol, December 1970)
Away at a weekend training camp, Mainwaring falls foul of a tortuously complicated officers’ drinking game involving the phrase “Cardinal Puff”, tapping parts of the body and downing ever-increasing shots of whisky…
Mainwaring: Here’s to the health of the Archbishop of Canterbury!
Captain Square: What’s that got to do with it?
M: It’s all the same thing… it’s all religious, isn’t it?
S: One’s RC. The other’s C of E!
M: Yes. Right. Here’s to the health of the Duchess of York, who’s a friend of Cardinal Puff-Puff-Puff-Puff!
S: Start again! Drain the glass!
M: All right, here’s the bloody glass.
Tips the contents all over Square’s head.
2. Hidden hero (Branded, November 1969)
Shunned after the revelation that he was a conscientious objector during the First World War, modest Godfrey saves Mainwaring’s life by rescuing him from a smoke-filled hut. When the platoon visit the recuperating private, Mainwaring spots a photo of Godfrey in uniform, wearing the Military Medal…
Mainwaring: But you told us that you were a damn… that you were a conscientious objector?
Godfrey: So I was.
M: How could you win the MM?
Cissy Godfrey: He volunteered to join the medical corps. And during the Battle of the Somme, he went out into no man’s land under heavy fire, and saved several lives.
G: Oh, it wasn’t as heavy as all that, you know…
And your winner…
1.“Don’t tell him, Pike!” (The Deadly Attachment, October 1973)
Ian Lavender (who played Pike) remembers: “We were all agreed it was one of those lines you can’t do a retake of. I went to David Croft after the camera rehearsal and said, ‘Please can you cut away to somebody else? I can’t keep a straight face.’ And he said, ‘I will happily go somewhere else if you can tell me where… I have to come to you, I can’t go anywhere else. It’s got to be you. Do your best.’”
On the night, the situation was compounded by a small mistake. “Arthur started to fluff the line before it — ‘Not like the… not like the cheerful discipline of our own jolly jack… jack tars’ — it’s because he knows this punchline is coming up and he doesn’t want to mess up. So I started to grin and bit my cheek, and in the end the blood did flow, purely because I found it so funny.” Does Lavender feel lumbered by the line, which was also voted, in a 2017 poll, the funniest comedy line ever?
“Only to the extent that people say to me, ‘Go on, say the line.’ What line? I didn’t say anything! Or they get the line wrong: ‘Don’t tell him your name, Pike!’”
INTERIOR CHURCH HALL
Walmington-on-Sea Home Guard is detailed to keep a German U-boat crew under armed guard overnight. While Pike, holding a tommy gun, covers the prisoners from a stepladder, Mainwaring prepares to address them.
Mainwaring: Now pay attention.
The Germans click heels and stand to attention immediately.
Wilson: I say, they’re awfully well disciplined, aren’t they, sir?
M: Nothing of the sort. That’s slavish, blind obedience. Not like the cheerful discipline of our own jolly jack tars. I tell you, Wilson, they’re a nation of automatons, led by a lunatic who looks like Charlie Chaplin.
U-boat Captain: How dare you compare our glorious leader with that non-Aryan clown. I am making notes, Captain, and your name will go on the list. And when we win the war, you will be brought to account.
M: You can write what you like, you’re not going to win this war.
UC: Oh yes we are.
M: Oh no you’re not.
UC: Oh yes we are.
Pike: Whistle while you work, Hitler is a twerp, he’s half-barmy, so’s his army, whistle while you…
UC: Your name will also go on the list. What is it?
M: Don’t tell him, Pike!